Serious Partying


I wouldn’t call Codenames the best game I’ve played in the past couple years, but it’s probably one of my most-played. This is partially due to its length, short enough that almost no one plays just one game, and its flexibility with player numbers. It handles ten people as well as it handles four. I’ve even gone higher than that, and it’s been fine (your results my be different). But probably the biggest factor has been that it can be pulled out with just about any group at all, regardless of experience level. These days I bring it to just about any gathering where games might be played. If people have played it before, they’ll probably play it again. If no one has heard of it, it almost always ends up with someone asking me where they can buy a copy. It’s cheap too, so people don’t balk at the price like they do with most hobby games. Continue reading


Good News for Lonely Mages – Mage Knight: The Lost Legion Review

Mage Knight: The Lost Legion

Looks like we found that legion…

It says something about Mage Knight’s quality that even as my life has become less permitting of long dense games, I still find time to play Vlaada Chvatil’s classic several times a year. I enjoyed it when I first got it two years ago, but it has only improved since then. The more time I spend with it, the more I am convinced it is not only Chvatil’s best game, but perhaps one of the  best fantasy board games ever designed. But one thing I didn’t think the game needed was an expansion. It’s such a vast ocean of a game with so many ways to play, that I couldn’t think of anything that needed to be added. But now that I’ve played The Lost Legion a few times, I see how wrong I was. It’s a terrific expansion, enriching the original experience to such a point that to go back to not using it would  feel like a regression. Continue reading

Game Grinding – Tash-Kalar Review

tash-kalar cover

Hulk summon!

In The Magicians by Lev Grossman,  the main character is sent to a magical boarding school where he is given a certain textbook. This textbook is filled with complicated hand gestures that must be performed precisely to produce their intended effect. The protagonist is made to practice these gestures over and over again, until they become ingrained in his memory and he can produce them all in a moment’s notice. In the process this textbook becomes the bane of his education, a tormentor that reminds him of how far he has to go as a magician. That’s a pretty accurate description of the process of learning Tash-Kalar, the  new game from Vlaada Chvatil. The only difference is that the payoff is getting good at a board game, instead of, you know, actual magic. Continue reading

A Company Monster – Goblins, Inc. Review

Goblins, Inc. Box Cover

And it was so well put together!

I like Goblins Inc., but not as much as I want to. As a result it’s difficult to review. On one hand, the rules, the advertising, and the game itself seem are aiming for a specific experience that goes undelivered. On the other, I find myself enjoying what’s there anyway. It’s 75% of the way to amazing, which is pretty good. But man, that last 25%… Continue reading

Hooray! I’m A Delivery Boy! – Galaxy Trucker Revisited

box cover

We got a great big convoy, ain’t she a beautiful sight?

I like to go back and look at games that have been out for a while. I’ve already done it with a couple of my favorite games, and I think it’s a great way to reaffirm and reevaluate my opinions. Games don’t change but we certainly do, and my five years in the hobby have seen my attitudes towards board gaming shift dramatically. I’ve grown more accustomed to different genres, and I’ve become more experienced in writing about a variety of topics. But in all of those five years, I’ve never really written about something like Galaxy Trucker, which is probably why I’m currently typing this up. Continue reading

A Very Great Adventure – Mage Knight Review

Mage Knight

Two triple-columned rulebooks not shown.

At some point in the last 50 years, “fantasy” came to denote a certain image: elves, dwarves, and wizards who embark on a quest and have lots of big adventures. There’s a certain epic sweep to fantasy, but at its core it tends to be pulpy. That basic silliness must be overcome or cast aside for a fantasy novel to really shine. The exception to this goofy nature is what most people would consider the first true modern fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien’s classic may have many similar trappings, but its attitude is entirely different. Instead of action there are journeys. The tone is lyrical and elegiac, rather than fast-paced. As such, some modern readers find The Lord of the Rings to be curiously slow. It’s not a book that is meant to be burned through. It demands something from the reader. Continue reading

Geekway to the West, 2012

After a few months of anticipation and several nights without enough sleep, I’m finally back from my escapade to St. Louis, and the Geekway to the West con. This was my first con, since it was well within driving distance for me. After a good friend of mine talked it up  last year, I decided that this year I would make the trip myself. Was it worth the miles driven and hotel prices? I would say that it absolutely was worth it, at least eventually. Continue reading